West Sound Beach Restoration (Orcas)

150 waterfront feet of pocket beach habitat restored by removing a large rock and creosote bulkhead (2015).

before
after

When we were looking at our options for redeveloping our property, one of the things we took into account was sea level rise. We wanted to get rid of the big seawall and make sure both the house and beach would be around in 100 years. By moving the house back, we were able restore the beach for now and the future.

––John and Maia Vechey, Orcas Island Residents

The project site is located along Orcas Island’s West Sound, which is one of San Juan County’s four priority forage fish spawning regions. The goal of this project was to restore a pocket beach and improve its functions as spawning and rearing habitat for forage fish and rearing habitat for juvenile salmon. To achieve this goal, Friends, landowners, project sponsors, and partners removed extensive toxic creosote materials, as well as over 530 tons of bank and beach rock and fill to unbury the upper beach and bank, re-graded the bank slope, and replanted nearly 1,600 native trees and shrubs. The removal reconnected the sediment supply bank, backshore and riparian areas, unburied forage fish spawning habitat, and provided rearing and prey benefits to the multiple species of juvenile fish.

This project was a partnership between Friends of the San Juans, Coastal Geologic Services, and the private landowners, who committed significant resources to improving habitat conditions on their property. The landowners also relocated the primary residence from 40 ft. from the shoreline, to a new location over 160 feet from the shoreline. In addition, a large creosote dock, pier and pilings were replaced with non-toxic and fully grated, light permeable materials.

Project acknowledgements: Family Tides Farms and Coastal Geologic Services.

Funding was provided by the private landowners and the Washington State Salmon Recovery Funding Board.

Click here to see Planning for the Future: Benefits of Beach Restoration which showcases this project.

From the first time we visited the islands, we were awe-struck by the natural beauty of this majestic setting: towering conifers, green meadows, beautiful lakes, forested mountains, all surrounded by the sound! Like any beautiful location, this magical environment could be “loved to death”, which is why it is so important that Friends of the San Juans is there to help us protect what we all love.

David and Geri Turnoy

members, Orcas Island